The Guggenheim and Rockbund Museums Call Off Exhibition of Middle Eastern Art in Shanghai

'But a Storm Is Blowing From Paradise' is part of the Guggenheim's initiative to diversify its collection.

Installation View: But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, featuring Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Dust Breeding, (2011) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo by David Heald.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai have canceled the planned exhibition of “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa.” The show was on display at the Guggenheim New York last year, and was set to open in Shanghai on April 15.

A short statement posted by the Guggenheim on March 17 explained that the mutual agreement to cancel the show, “due to unforeseen circumstances,” came after “thoughtful discussion and deliberation” between both institutions.

guggenheim rockbund

Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa. Photo by David Heald, ©Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

Curated by Sara Raza, the show was the third and final installment of the UBS MAP Global Art Initiative to diversify the Guggenheim’s holdings. It included works by artists like Kader Attia, Hassan Khan, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, and Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, all of which entered the museum’s permanent collection.

It followed “No Country: Contemporary Art from South and Southeast Asia” in 2013, and “Under the Same Sun” in 2014, which focused on Latin American art.

As part of the program, the exhibitions travel to their focus regions after their run in New York, but also to other institutions that partner with the Guggenheim. “No Country” went on view at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, while “Under the Same Sun” traveled to the Museo Jumex in Mexico City, and then to the South London Gallery.

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Installation View: ‘But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa,’ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo by David Heald.

The Middle East and North Africa-focused installment was originally set to travel to Istanbul’s Pera Museum this year. Raza told artnet News in April 2016 that the city is “a perfect place for this show…because it’s a crossroads of East and West and it has such a well-developed contemporary art scene.”

But a look on the Guggenheim’s and the Pera Museum’s websites yields neither information on the exchange, nor any indication of whether it had been officially called off.

The Shanghai exhibition was announced in a press release by the Guggenheim on February 28, 2017. It was slated to be “one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa to be seen in China to date.” The dates initially set for the Shanghai leg are another indication that the Istanbul iteration had been quietly canceled, as it was meant to open in the spring of 2017 according to previous press coverage.

Neither the Guggenheim, Rockbund, nor Pera Museums immediately responded to requests for comment.

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